Pasadena residents ask if ethics were violated Bill councilman OK'd benefited his friend

October 31, 1997|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

A group of Pasadena residents has asked the county to investigate whether Councilman Thomas W. Redmond Sr. broke county ethics laws this spring by sponsoring a bill to save an associate's business.

Redmond cast the deciding vote April 7 in favor of an ordinance that allowed his friend, William H. DeBaugh Jr., to continue running a wood-chipping business in an area of Pasadena where zoning laws prohibited it.

Although a neighbor asked Redmond during that meeting whether he had a conflict of interest, the councilman did not reveal that his waste-hauling company, Redmond's Inc., was doing business with DeBaugh's company, A-A Recycle & Sand at 8217 Baltimore-Annapolis Blvd. .

After The Sun reported the financial relationship between DeBaugh and Redmond on Sept. 22, 21 residents of the nearby Shelby Grove subdivision wrote to the county Ethics Commission requesting an inquiry.

County ethics laws say council members should not vote on bills when they have a financial interest different from the public's in businesses that would be affected by their vote.

In their letter dated Oct. 1, the neighbors wrote: "The undersigned believe that enough question has been raised in [The Sun's] article to support an inquiry into whether the enactment of the legislation was conducted in accordance with public ethics law."

A representative of DeBaugh's company will appear before the county's administrative hearing officer Tuesday to request an additional zoning change needed to keep his business open.

Neighbors have asked the county to deny DeBaugh's request because they say his chipping and cement-crushing machines disturb nearby homeowners.

DeBaugh is asking the county to rezone 12 acres from residential and open-space to commercial. He has been running his business on this land for a decade, even though county zoning laws said wood chipping and cement crushing were not allowed in those areas.

The zoning law sponsored by Redmond allowed wood chipping businesses on commercially zoned property for the first time.

In an interview yesterday, DeBaugh said the ethics complaint filed by the neighbors is "frivolous." Redmond could not be reached for comment.

"It's absolutely ridiculous to say we are in cahoots," DeBaugh said.

DeBaugh added that he and Redmond stopped doing business together after The Sun article appeared.

At the time of the County Council vote, Redmond's trucks were hauling trash bins full of scrap wood and concrete from construction sites and depositing them across the street on DeBaugh's lot.

There, the material from Redmond's bins was ground into mulch and gravel for sale by DeBaugh. For this service, Redmond paid DeBaugh about $5,000 a year. DeBaugh also paid Redmond about $650 a year to haul a bin of trash and debris from A-A Recycle & Sand.

Pub Date: 10/31/97

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